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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Brown Pelican underwent cataract surgery Thursday, a surgery which will hopefully lead to the bird’s release into the wild in a few months.
When the pelican was first brought in, Dr. Renata Schneider of South Florida Wildlife Center said he was weak–which was indication that the bird wasn’t able to hunt well.
The vets and volunteers at the center nursed the bird back to health but soon realized it was his vision that was the problem. The bird couldn’t see well due to a mature cataract on his left eye.
“If you look at his left eye you can see there’s a thick white center that is not normal in the black pupil as opposed to in the right,” said Dr. Schneider.
Without his full vision, the bird may not be able to capture food properly.
“It is imperative for survival not being fed they have to know how to get food on their own, they have very special eyes to see fish under the water with the glaring sun,” said Dr. Schneider.
Poor vision could also make the bird more susceptible to prey.
Thursday morning, the young pelican was brought to Premier Veterinary Specialists and put into the hands of Dr. Robert Swinger for the surgery.
“We’re going to make a small incision on the top of the eye then go in with a little probe behind the pupil, suck it up, bring it out, close him up so he will be able to see again,” said Dr. Swinger.
Before getting started, however, the pelican had to be placed under local anesthesia using a specialized mask because of his large bill. A short time later, he was prepped and ready for the surgery that will allow them to see the world in a different light.
Dr. Swinger said he’s pretty confident the surgery will be a success.
Post surgery, the center will work to rehabilitate the pelican, which will hopefully be released in 2-3 months. During rehabilitation, the bird will be treated with drops three to four times a day and will be monitored for complications.